Key things to watch for in today's games
There are only six games around the Major Leagues on Thursday, but the Padres and Dodgers still provide a marquee matchup. San Diego and Los Angeles will kick off a four-game set, and the Dodgers lead 8-4 in the season series despite outscoring the Padres by just three runs (47-44).
The Dodgers went 15-12 in August and solidified their grip on the NL West, and they've managed to stay afloat despite a 28-36 record on the road. Los Angeles is scoring 4.08 runs per game, slightly below the league average (4.10), and has the fourth-best ERA (3.39) of any NL team.
The Padres acquired Matt Kemp from the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade before the season, and he's batting .269 with 17 home runs and 85 RBIs in 129 games. Catcher Yasmani Grandal, who went to the Dodgers in that deal, was an All-Star this year and is batting .263 with 15 homers and 44 RBIs.
Here are a few other matchups and games to look forward to today.
Going wild: CWS @ MIN, 1:10 p.m. ET
The surprising Twins are still hanging on in the fight for the AL's second Wild Card, and they'll be watching the scoreboard to see how their competitors do from night to night. Minnesota is right behind the Rangers for the second slot, providing some drama for the season's final month.
The Twins' Kyle Gibson will get the ball in Thursday's series finale against the White Sox, and he'll be looking for his second consecutive win. Gibson threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Astros in his last outing, but prior to that, he had gone seven starts without a win. Gibson is 9-9 with a 3.82 ERA.
The White Sox will counter with Jeff Samardzija, and he'll be trying to reset his season after an August that saw him post an 0-6 record with a 8.82 ERA. Samardzija was outstanding in July, notching a 3-1 record and a 2.27 ERA, but he's been knocked around for 47 hits in his last six starts.
Pirate push: PIT @ MIL, 7:20 p.m. ET
Francisco Liriano is on a tremendous run for the Pirates, who have strengthened their hold on the NL's top Wild Card slot. Liriano is unbeaten in 11 straight starts dating back to June 26, and the Pirates are 11-0 in those games. Liriano, for his part, has registered a 5-0 record and a 3.31 ERA over that streak.
The left-hander is 4-0 with a 4.15 ERA in seven starts since the All-Star break, and he's managed a 5-2 record and a 2.33 ERA in 10 road starts this season. The Pirates can also boast of impeccable relief work from closer Mark Melancon, who is 3-1 with 43 saves and a 1.71 ERA this season.
The Brewers will go with Taylor Jungmann, one of their bright spots this season. Jungmann, the 12th overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, has gone 8-5 with a 2.48 ERA in his first 15 big league starts. He's 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts against Pittsburgh, and he's 4-2 with a 1.50 ERA at home.
Coronations: DET @ KC, 8:10 p.m. ET
The Royals are in control of the AL Central, and are counting down the days until they can clinch their first division title since 1985, but they still hope to play well through the wire. Kansas City is 7-7 against the Tigers, the four-time defending division champions, but has outscored Detroit 61-44 this year.
Edinson Volquez has gone 12-7 with a 3.27 ERA in 27 starts for the Royals this season, but he's notched an 0-2 mark with a 4.85 ERA against Detroit. Volquez is 7-3 with a 2.94 ERA in 13 starts at home this season, and the Royals are one of two AL teams with 45 wins at home.
Southpaw Matt Boyd will get the start for Detroit, and he's gone 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA in six outings for the Tigers. Boyd also made two starts for Toronto, going 0-2 with a 14.85 ERA, before arriving in Detroit in the David Price trade. The rookie allowed 11 home runs in 36 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays.